Thursday, May 9, 2019

Paying Attention

In On Noticing from Ideas and Thoughts, Dean Shareski challenges,

“I write this if only to challenge you and to remind myself to notice things.”

Sometimes I get so caught up in my own world that I forget to notice things. When I am in a quiet place and reading a book, I get so involved in the book that the world around me ceases to exist. Sometimes when I’m on a walk or hiking, I get so focused on my thoughts that I forget to appreciate the world around me. When I’m traveling, I see so many people who are so focused on the electronics that they don’t seem to appreciate the beauty around them.

I confess that I used to be that way. When we would go on a road trip, I would either read or nap while we traveled. Now I make an effort to knit or listen to an audiobook so that I can see the beauty that we are traveling through. I confess that if it is a trip that we make a lot, I tend to read or nap anyway but if it is new territory, I’m going to pay attention better.

I tend to get very egocentric when I’m anxious. We are planning an upcoming trip and with all the details, I tend to forget to enjoy the fun of planning. I am a person who makes a lot of lists because going on a trip involves the unknown and I have no control over the unknown. Having lists makes me feel like I have some control over something. But worrying about the details and what may happen sometimes keeps me from noticing what is going on in the present. I have to consciously make myself be more aware of what is happening around me at that time.

I am going to be flying on a plane for the first time in many years and I’m worried about the TSA procedures, connecting flights, layovers, and possibly losing my luggage. But I’m going to plan on doing more observations and even pictures in the airport to help me not lose focus on what is going on around me.

I am also addicted to people watching. I like to see what people are wearing and I love to read funny sayings on their t-shirts. I find it interesting to watch how people interact with others in their group or with people they don’t know. When we go to a place with large crowds, I like to see how people from different cultures or countries interact with each other. It is also interesting how young people interact with older people.

I also love taking photos with my phone camera. I’m trying to do better at taking pictures from different angles or perspectives. I’m trying to notice angles and curves and colors.

I think our students get in the same habits with their school work. Some students are so focused on their studies and getting better grades that they become oblivious to the other activities that will help them be a well-rounded student. Others are so focused on their own behavior (for whatever reasons) that they can’t focus on their learning. Some are so focused on their peers that they don’t notice some behaviors that may negatively influence them and don’t realize they need to find peers with a more positive influence.

I need to set a better example.  I’m going to make more of an effort to notice things.

What keeps you from noticing things? How will you change this?

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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